The Hershey Flying Service was established in 1949 by Pete and Floyd Roueche as an aerial application business. They started the season in the southern states and eventually made their way back to Nebraska providing aerial application along the way Their first plane, a 1939 J-3 Cub was a wreck they picked up for $400. They bolted on a tank and started spraying.
In 1969, the brothers purchased their first Ag-Cat and fell in love with the aircraft. Five years later, they decided to retire from the aerial application business and go strictly into repairing, refurbishing, and modifying the hardworking Grumman Ag-Cat. They were responsible for building all their jigs and fixtures for the aircraft, a skill they had both learned working in California at the aircraft bomber and pursuit factories prior to WWII. Later, they served their country by joining the Armed Forces, Pete as an Army infantry soldier and Floyd as an aircraft mechanic.
The Roueches were responsible for many STC (Supplemental Type Certificate) modifications to the Ag- Cat, along with holding numerous PMA (Parts Manufacturer Approval) replacement parts to support the fleet. Hershey Flying Service became the premier repair facility for Ag-Cats with a customer base made up of the US, Canada, Mexico, and numerous countries around the world, including Australia, Chile, the United Kingdom, and Venezuela. Goldene, Pete’s wife, who worked alongside her husband once said, “We do pretty much everything from the ground up.”
An STC of which The Roueches were most proud was increasing the hopper by 14 inches, allowing it to carry 425 gallons of liquid during a spraying operation instead of the normal 300 gallon capacity. They built the fiberglass hopper and nicknamed the Ag-Cat “The Fat Cat.”
A series of shops housed the different manufacturing processes: fiber glass, metal stamping and part fabrication, painting, framework, and mechanic work. The ventilated paint shop walls and ceiling fixtures bore one color, that of the Ag-Cat yellow glow!
For years, many young men from the Hershey area were employed at The Hershey Flying Service. Under the tutelage and mentorship of Pete and Floyd Roueche, they gained knowledge, the importance of attention to detail, and a sense of pride in doing a job well. Those life-long lessons have left lasting impressions.
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